Down 2-0 in their series against the Edmonton Oilers, the Anaheim Ducks head to Alberta for Game 3 Sunday and Game 4 Wednesday. The club will spend Monday and Tuesday in Kelowna. Coach Randy Carlyle will have more than enough time to devise a plan to turn the series.
But can they?
There are two types of losses: One, a team does not execute properly, does not exhibit the proper compete level, simply plays a poor game, and much of the blame falls on the defeated. The other type of loss comes at the hand of the opponent, regardless whether the defeated executed their game plan properly and gave a good effort.
The latter is what is happening to the Ducks right now. Game 1 and Game 2 were won by the better team. The Oilers have kept the Ducks to the perimeter of the offensive zone far too often. Despite outplaying Edmonton Friday night at Honda Center, the Ducks could not solve a hot Cam Talbot, and most strikingly, could not establish a presence in the area immediately in front of the Oilers’ net.
Carlyle is right to point out, as he does so often, that there are fewer pretty plays in the NHL all the time, and the goals—especially in the postseason—come from in close.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Jakob Silfverberg. “The last piece is missing and that’s correctable. We have to get more bodies in front. (Cam) Talbot’s a good goalie, so you have to make sure to push him back into the net and get in front of him.”
“I guess the guys are doing a great job in front of me,” said Talbot in the understatement of the weekend. “I’m finding some of those pucks that maybe I wouldn’t have found before. That’s what you need in the playoffs.”
Two Ducks must emerge immediately: Rickard Rakell (2-3-5) and Corey Perry (1-2-3) each had very solid opening series against Calgary. Thus far, they’ve been non-existent against the Oilers.
Carlyle has already put Rakell back on Ryan Getzlaf’s wing. Have to wonder, down 2-0, whether the Ducks’ last straw will involve moving the productive Patrick Eaves down the lineup for the sake of one last gasp with Perry on Getzlaf’s other side.
As for the Oilers, former Duck Patrick Maroon exacted a measure of revenge on his former mates—who are still on the hook for $500K of his salary—when he scored the game-winner on the power play halfway through Game 2.
The Oilers’ defense has been very solid in its own end, boxing out the Ducks from the slot and getting a game-winner from Adam Larsson in Game 1, and Andrej Sekera stung Anaheim with the opening goal in Game 2 just 65 seconds into the match, which put the Ducks behind the eight-ball, where they stayed, for the rest of a game that Anaheim otherwise dominated.
Game 3 is 7pm Eastern / 4pm Pacific Sunday in Edmonton.
Duck Calls on AM830 Sunday after Game 3
Duck Calls will be heard on AM830 www.am830.net after the Angels game wraps up. You can call the show at 714-2-830-830.